3 Heinicke facts, 2 sug­ges­tions for game and 1 pre­dic­tion

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Basketball - BY SCOTT FOWLER [email protected]­lot­teob­server.com Scott Fowler: 704-358-5140, @scot­t_­fowler

The Carolina Pan­thers did what they should have done this week, shut­ting down a sore-shoul­dered Cam New­ton for the sea­son. Af­ter New­ton’s per­for­mance against New Or­leans – ob­vi­ously hurt­ing, ob­vi­ously com­pro­mised – that was re­ally the only choice to make.

So here are three things I find in­ter­est­ing about Sun­day’s starter, Tay­lor Heinicke, and two sug­ges­tions:

Heinicke is a ver­ti­cal● ly chal­lenged quar­ter­back (he’s gen­er­ously listed at 6-foot-1). Of course, that’s never hurt Drew Brees. Heinicke more closely mod­els him­self af­ter an­other NFL quar­ter­back, though — Rus­sell Wil­son. As he told me once of Wil­son: “He gets his play­mak­ers the ball, he doesn’t make a lot of bone­head plays. … That’s what I feel like I can do.”

Heinicke once threw

for 730 yards in a sin­gle col­lege game while at Old Do­min­ion. Yes, 730 yards.

●He will take a chance — some­times to his detri­ment. “Ev­ery now and then, he’s a lit­tle bit of a gun­slinger and he’ll try to force a shot,” coach Ron Rivera said once about Heinicke.

OK, so those things are all in­ter­est­ing. Here are my sug­ges­tions.

First, throw the ball on

the very first play of the game. A short, safe pass. Get the guy a lit­tle confi- dence. Don’t run it twice with Chris­tian McCaf­frey and end up fac­ing thir­dand-7 for his first throw.

Sec­ond sug­ges­tion:

Take a deep shot some­time in the first quar­ter to DJ Moore. At­lanta’s se­condary has been vul­ner­a­ble all year. Heinicke’s arm is strong. Moore is strong enough to bat it down if it’s not a good throw, and it just might work. If it falls in­com­plete, no harm, no foul — but it should at least make the Fal­cons think twice about an eight-man box on de­fense.

This is the last home

game of the sea­son for the Pan­thers, who are also try­ing to break a six-game los­ing streak. For a num­ber of guys on the ros­ter – and coaches, too – these last two games are about sav­ing their jobs. So ef­fort won’t be a prob­lem.

Pre­dic­tion time: I got

New Or­leans’ win over the Pan­thers cor­rect Mon­day night to put my record at 9-5 for the sea­son pick­ing Carolina games.

When it ap­peared Cam New­ton would play in the At­lanta game, Carolina was a three-point fa­vorite. Now that he won’t, At­lanta is fa­vored by a field goal.

Lit­tle has gone right for the Pan­thers for the past two months, and they’re def­i­nitely not go­ing to beat New Or­leans on the road in a week to close the sea­son. But I think they will upset At­lanta and get Heinicke a vic­tory in his first start, avoid­ing the em­bar­rass­ment of an 0-8 sec­ond half of the sea­son.

My pick: Carolina 27, At­lanta 24.

DAVID T. FOS­TER III dt­fos­[email protected]­lot­teob­server.com

With Cam New­ton on the bench due to an in­jured throw­ing shoul­der, Pan­thers quar­ter­back Tay­lor Heinicke is sched­uled to start his first-ever NFL game Sun­day against At­lanta.

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